Eggplant layered with tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese and baked until golden and bubbling. Parmigiana di Melanzane is the perfect low carb comfort food.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I like comfort food. Why wouldn’t you? But I know that most comfort foods aren’t always the healthiest things to eat with all the carbs, cream and cheese they mostly contain. That’s when I remembered my old favorite, Parmigiana di Melanzane or Eggplant Parmesan as it is also known. But where traditional eggplant parm is breaded and fried before being layered with tomato sauce, this version is a low carb, gluten free version. I like to grill or pan fry the slices of eggplant until they are golden brown.
I decided to add mushrooms to my tomato sauce to add more flavor. The mushrooms also add a meatiness which makes this a delicious vegetarian main dish. The end result was this deliciously cheesy recipe. Perfect as a meatless meal served with crusty bread and a crisp, green salad.
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How to make Parmigiana di Melanzane
Slice fresh eggplant (aubergine) into thin slices. Brush with olive oil then grill or pan-fry until golden brown on both sides. Season with salt and set aside. Make the tomato sauce by softening a chopped onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped mushrooms and cook until they start to brown then add garlic and herbs. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10-15 minutes until it’s reduced slightly. Layer the cooked eggplant with the sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Place the Parmigiana di Melanzane in the oven and allow to bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 5 minutes then serve topped with fresh basil.
Can you freeze Eggplant Parmesan?
Cook the eggplant and sauce then layer with the cheese as directed in a foil container. Cover with a layer of parchment paper then wrap well with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: remove the foil, plastic and parchment paper. Bake from frozen until the sauce is bubbling and the dish is hot throughout.
Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan)
- 3 large eggplant/aubergine sliced into 1cm slices
- 150 g (2/3 cup) mozzarella
- 100 g (1 cup) Parmesan cheese grated (use a vegetarian alternative if preferred)
for the sauce
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 250 g (¼lb) mushrooms sliced (I used portobellini/cremini mushrooms)
- 800 g (28oz) chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill in a hot griddle pan for 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- To make the sauce, sauté the onion in a saucepan in a splash of oil until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms and herbs and fry until the mushrooms are golden brown.
- Add the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.
- To assemble the bake, layer the grilled eggplant with the sauce and cheese in an oven-proof dish, reserving some of the mozzarella for the topping.
- Place the dish in the oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve with salad/bread of your choice.